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Assisting People With Disabilities Into Employment

17 April 2002 Media Statement

Trials To Test Innovative Approaches To Assist People With Disabilities Into Employment

Innovative strategies to assist people receiving sickness and invalids benefits into sustainable paid work were announced today by Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

Called “employABLE - Ngā Pukenga Hei Whai Mahi”, four new two-year demonstration projects will start this June, run by community providers in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development. Funding worth $3 million has been allocated for the trials.

“The pilots are an example of this Government’s social development approach - helping people through individually tailored assistance. We know that many people in receipt of Sickness and Invalids Benefit want to be employed. The projects are an opportunity to find out how we can meet their needs in the most effective way.

“Participation in these demonstration projects will be voluntary. The services offered will be holistic, recognising that ongoing support in a number of areas may be required for these programmes to succeed.

“Three of the four demonstration projects will assist people with mental illness, following findings of the recent vocational services review that this group is underserved by current employment services. Employment specialists will work with the clinical teams supporting participants so that returning to work becomes a realistic and integral goal of their plan to return to wellness.

“Contract negotiations are now underway with the following community providers:
 the Early Intervention Service of Capital and Coast Health in Wellington, to provide a project that will assist people with mental illness who are 25 years of age and under;
 Richmond Fellowship in Christchurch, to work with people of any age with mental illness;
 Tui Ora Ltd, the Taranaki Maori Development Organisation, through one of its providers, New Plymouth based Te Rau Pani, to host a Kaupapa Maori service for people with mental illness; and,
 Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust in Waitakere, to provide a Kaupapa Maori project to assist Sickness and Invalids Benefit recipients with chronic physical impairments.

“There has been real enthusiasm for and input into developing these pilots from both consumers and the disability sector providers. Community organisations have expressed support for the projects and for their focus on assisting Sickness and Invalids Benefit recipients into ‘real jobs for real pay.

“The projects will contribute to the implementation of the New Zealand Disability Strategy, which encourages development of employment opportunities for people with disabilities. A full evaluation of the projects will be carried out to find out what works best to help Sickness and Invalids Benefit recipients find and stay in employment,” Steve Maharey said.


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